Project Knowledge Management

I’ve been reading up on knowledge management topics (due to one of my classes being “Knowledge Management”) and have found that there is a nice subset of knowledge management research focused on managing knowledge in projects. I found this interesting and dove into a few articles that I found.

In the project management world, there is a considerable amount of research describing the reasons for success and/or failure of projects in the information technology space. Most of this research focuses on failures being caused by such things as: lack of executive sponsorship; lack of project management methods, lack of change management processes, project scope size, project duration, etc.

While these causes of failure are quite common in IT projects, one of the largest and most unrecognized reasons for failure, in my opinion, is the lack of proper knowledge management and knowledge transfer methodologies throughout the project management lifecycle.

Most projects that I’ve ever been a part of wait until the end of the project to write a lesson’s learned document. That document is a good exercise, but it doesn’t do anything to manage knowledge during the project or ensure that knowledge is transferred between project members. It also isn’t a given that anyone will ever read the lessons learned document.

Leseure & Brookes (2004) state this clearly when they write:

“Knowledge is generated within one project and then lost. Failure to transfer this knowledge…leads to wasted activity and impaired project performance” (Leseure & Brookes, 2004, p. 103).

How can project managers, team members and organizations ensure that knowledge is captured, transfered and managed in the proper ways? There seems to be a considerable amount of research on the topic.

I have a feeling that regardless of what research is done, the main focus will come down to the culture of the organization. This seems to be backed up by previous research performed by Karlsen & Gottschalk (2004) when results of a survey showed that organizational culture has the most impact on knowledge transfer in projects and should be the one area that organizations focus on when looking at knowledge transfer methodologies and knowledge management capabilities (Karlsen & Gottschalk, 2004, p. 8).

This area of research seems to be a pretty hot right now. The most recent edition of PMI’s Project Management Journal had an article dealing with this same topic and ran a great article from Blaize Horner Reich in 2007 titled “Managing Knowledge and Learning in It Projects: A Conceptual Framework and Guidelines for Practice”. Reich’s article has some interesting concepts and a framework for knowledge management in practice.

Interesting topic…at least to me 🙂 Any readers have some pointers for knowledge management techniques that you’ve used in the past that might be applicable to projects?

References:

  • Leseure, M. J., & Brookes, N. J. (2004). Knowledge management benchmarks for project management. Journal of Knowledge Management, 8(1), 103.
  • Karlsen, J. T., & Gottschalk, P. (2004). Factors Affecting Knowledge Transfer in IT Projects. Engineering Management Journal, 16(1), 3.
  • Reich, B. H. (2007). Managing Knowledge and Learning in It Projects: A Conceptual Framework and Guidelines for Practice. Project Management Journal, 38(2), 5.

[tags] project management, knowledge management [/tags]

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KasaeizadehEric D. BrownOmid MotevallianProject Knowledge Management | ManagementSystem Review Recent comment authors
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[…] unknown wrote an interesting post today onHere’s a quick excerptI’ve been reading up on knowledge management topics (due to one of my classes being “Knowledge Management”) and have found that there is a nice subset of knowledge management research focused on managing knowledge in projects. … […]

System Review
Guest

nice topic you raised here Eric. Organizational culture change is the most difficult to tackle in the project area. I think this area alone needs another project before implementing other IT projects. Just my opinion.

Eric Brown
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You are correct…I do believe that organizational culture is the most difficult area to focus on…and is the most difficult to change.

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Project Knowledge Management…

[Source: Aligning Technology, Strategy, People & Projects] quoted: The most recent edition of PMI’s Project Management Journal had an article dealing with this same topic and ran a great article from Blaize Horner Reich in 2007 titled “…

James
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James

Here is a simple idea to add to your resource list. Vertabase is an online project management software provider. They say on their blog (http://www.vertabase.com/blog/online-issue-tracking-collaborating-on-projects/) that the keys to good issue tracking are accountability, communication, and visibility. Don’t you think that having these tools wired into your project management software would contribute to organizational culture change? It comes down to the transparency that is required to move good projects ahead.

Omid Motevallian
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Omid Motevallian

Dear Eric, I have searched a lot for finding techniques and tools for managing project knowledge during 3 below phases: 1- Planning Phase 2-Executing Phase 3-Closing Phase But, for the 1st and 2nd phases, there aren’t any practical and universal tools for this purpose. I have done my MS thesis on this issue base on PMBOK (Project Management Body of Knowledge from PMI) and extracting knowledgeable item for each body of project. I have tried to define a conceptual model for managing project knowledge for each standard project. I will appreciate if I can communicate with you about this issue… Read more »

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RT @ericdbrown: Project Knowledge Management http://bit.ly/eyWfeJ

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